He’s a pest control manager celebrating his 30th year with Peninsular Pest Control in Riverside. For three decades, he’s battled pests in Riverside, Ortega, Avondale and North Riverside.
Like a knight, he’s rescued critter-weary residents, some standing on chairs.
He especially enjoys visiting riverfront mansions.
“It’s like being on one of those ‘tour of homes.’ And some homeowners will share the history of their place with me,” said Brand, whose smiling blue eyes matched his work-issued polo shirt on this day. “I was excited when a house I always wanted to go in got termites.”
Traversing different socioeconomic areas keeps things interesting.
“It’s fun, going from one extreme to the other. Lots of challenges. You solve problems for people. Never boring. You are dealing with people, and I love people. People and their emotions,” he said. “I’ve watched kids grow up, get married, have babies.”
He treated Jack del Rio’s first property in Ortega.
“His hand swallowed my hand,” Brand said.
The downturn in the economy hasn’t hurt business much in his area, he said, because people won’t put up with bugs.
During his career, Brand has seen the area’s pests, his industry and his clients grow and change.
Bed bugs – flesh-eating, tick-sized insects prevalent in Europe, have recently cropped up in Jacksonville as the result of international travel, he said. New York is battling them, he said.
So check your hotel and then your suitcase when you get home. And don’t buy a used bed, he says.
When Brand started out 30 years ago, roaches were a major problem. No more.
“I guess we killed them all,” he said, shrugging and smiling.
Also, Brand said at the start of his career, all the pesticides were carcinogenic. Today, they are safer, odor-free and improved. Monthly service calls have been replaced by quarterly or annual visits.
Today, most complaints are for ants and moths.
Casemaking clothes moths, he said, love historic homes and Oriental rugs. They breed in dark areas and eat fabric. Brand tells residents that a thorough house cleaning can help get rid of them. Have rugs professionally cleaned often and move furniture around now and then. If moths are seen in a closet, clear out the closet and wash or dry clean everything.
Termites, he said, continue to plague North Florida, providing job security for him and his colleagues. To prevent them, don’t let wood on your house touch the ground, he said. Don’t pile firewood, lumber or anything, for that matter, up against your home. Get gutters and keep them clean to keep moisture off the house. Search for and repair any leaks in the roof, fireplace or plumbing.
Older homes, like those in Riverside, Ortega and Avondale, are not sealed as tightly as newer ones, so bugs can get in easier. Also, wealthier, prettier neighborhoods have more trees and landscaping, which means more bugs.
Also, older homes have crawl spaces underneath that can harbor snakes, possums and rats. Brand laughed, recalling the time he and a squeamish rookie climbed under an old house and encountered a large, hissing possum.
“This guy screamed and ran, flattening all the metal heating and AC ducts,” Brand said chuckling. “He sells jewelry now at St. Johns Town Center.”